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PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:36 pm 
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Hello All,

Let me start off by saying that I do not consider myself an expert in this subject - I'm far from it, but I thought I'd start a thread on this topic because I had a lot of questions when I started out last year.

So please ask questions and provide answers if you can, my aim is to help bring others to this great sport, it really is a fun way to spend a day.

I believe the most important thing in setting up your FT rig is to know where the point of impact (POI) will be for your rifle at ranges from 10-55 yards. In my logic this is more important then being accurate, because if you can shoot a .5" group at 55 yards, but your POI is off by 2", it's tough to hit the kill zone.

To know what your POI will be between 10-55 yards, you need to know what pellet you'll be using (weight), what velocity it's at, and how high your scope centerline is from the centerline of your barrel.

To determine what pellet to use requires a bit of testing by shooting your rifle.

For piston rifles (springers) I recommend trying:
H&N Field Target Trophy (also called H&N FTT) 8.65g
Crosman Premier Light (also called CPL) 7.9g
JSB Exact in 4.50mm, 4.51mm, 4.52mm and 4.53mm they are all 8.4g

There are other pellets out there, as you'll see if you look on the European forums, but for the most part these are the ones used in North America for piston rifles.

It is worth noting that more FT piston rifles do not shoot above 12ftlb of energy, as pas this point it becomes more difficult to hold steady and you lose accuracy.

For PCP rifles, you'll want to use a heavier pellet, as your rifle is more powerful:
H&N Baracuda Match in 4.51mm and 4.52mm 10.65g
Crosman Premier Heavy (also called CPH) 10.5g
JSB Exact Heavy 4.52 10.3g

As you can see there are a lot of pellet options. What works in one rifle may not work in the next, even if it is the exact same model. Its surprising I know, but I've seen this time and time again. My old HW liked the H&N FTT, but new one hates them.

It also takes a bit of investment to purchase all these pellets. (over $80 to purchase all the ones I've listed in the piston selection) I'm considering making up a 'sample batch' of a bit of each type of pellet and selling them so people don't have to invest as much.

Okay, on to the scope measurements. Simple geometry will get you started: measure the thickness of the barrel and the scope. Divide by 2 and add the result together. Now measure the distance between the scope and barrel and add that.

Okay, so now you have the pellet weight, its velocity and the scope height. With this information you can get use a ballistics program (I use http://www.chairgun.com/ because its free, but there are others out there) to get a general idea as to where your pellet will strike. Using this software you can determine at what yardage the apex of the pellets flight path will be (its highest POI). Use this as your 'zero' - by doing this, all your scope clicks will be in the same direction, down.

Now you can print a chart of yardage to scope clicks and start testing. The chairgun chart won't bee 100% but it's a start.

Its important to test in the same manner that you will use for shooting during the FT matches. The reason for this is that you will have POI shifting between bench rest shooting and shooting in the sitting position (say with a harness) My HW97k has MAJOR POI shifting when I'm shooting off the bench, it's just as accurate so I can use it to test out different pellets, but I can't use it to setup my clicks. This will occur with PCPs as well, but won't be as pronounced.

Once you have fine tuned your chart so you know where the pellet will strike at say, 45 yards, now you can start working on your accuracy!

One important point - what if I don't have a chrony to determine what velocity I'm shooting at? the how can I use Chairgun software? Well don't worry, it just takes a bit more time. Pick a 'zero' yardage (25 yards is a good starting point) zero to that distance, then shoot 10, 20, 30, 40 and 55 yards, figuring out what clicks are required to zero at those distances. Then use this program to fill in the other yardages http://www.chairgun.com/download/RealWorldClicks.exe again not a bad idea to verify these numbers, but its a start.

I've skipped a major thing so far, and thats your scope. The optics on your rifle are very important. And as a result they aren't cheap. I've written a review on the Leapers 8-32 x 56 scope. In my opinion that is the cheapest scope you can get for its level of performance. Its a good scope and I think could last you for awhile and take you very far in the sport. For HFT, well thats a different story, I think Keyrigger has a good post on some scope options for that division.

Regardless of what scope you use, it needs to be mounted in such a way that it won't move (duh!) sounds simple, but it can be a pain in the butt sometimes.

Also its a good idea to find the 'optical center' of your scope. This isn't the mechanical center, which is found by counting the total number of clicks in your elevation turret and dividing by 2. The optical center is always a bit different, sometimes drastically different.

Finding the optical center takes a bit of time, but what you want to do is create a V shaped contraption to rest your scope in (off your rifle) A shoebox works, but I found making one out of wood is better as its sturdier. Clamp this down to a work bench and then look through your scope (focus on something at least 10 yards away). Now spin the scope in the V blocks without disturbing it too much. See how the reticle moves around its point of aim (POA)? you'll want to play with the windage and elevation until this movement is minimized - I don't think you'll ever totally eliminate it, but you can come close. Now you know your optical center (its a good idea to count the number of clicks to an endpoint so you can always go back to this point in the future)

Now the ideally, you want to use your optical center as your point of impact at 55 yards. The reason for this is that you have the best optics at this point (you're looking through the center of the scope) and the 55 yard shots are the most difficult. How do you do this? by setting up a target at 55 yards, and then shooting at it without changing your clicks. You'll need to shim the rear mount as your POA will be much higher then your POI. I use strips of pop cans, and need a few millimeters on my HW97. It doesn't have to be perfect, but within a few clicks is good.

So now you're shimmed your scope so that its setup correctly. But when you tighten it down be careful, you don't want it so tight that you bend the scope tube (because its out of alignment due to the shims) There are 'adjustable scope mounts' I've tried them, VERY frustrating to setup (and expensive) I removed mine in the end and now use the Leaper (Accushot) mount for $12, its a very good mount in my opinion, as good as the $60 European mounts.

I won't get into setting up the adjustable objective (range finding) as while its important, here in Canada if you need to know how far the target is, just ask your shooting partner, they'll tell you without issue, so focus on knowing where you pellet will strike once you have that information.

There are other things to setting up your rig, but this is a good start.

MOST IMPORTANTLY HAVE FUN. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO DO THIS BEFORE ATTENDING A FT MATCH, THEN DON'T, JUST SHOW UP AND SHOOT ALONG WITH US, YOU'LL STILL HAVE A BLAST AND THEN YOU'LL SEE IF YOU WANT TO SPEND THE TIME TO SETUP YOUR FT RIG!!!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:00 pm 
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lol that was excellent info pirellip, that bit at the end is what im going to do just come out and shoot and see if i want to really get into hft


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 7:35 pm 
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gammawolf wrote:
lol that was excellent info pirellip, that bit at the end is what im going to do just come out and shoot and see if i want to really get into hft


Yeah I get a bit carried away sometimes when I decide to do something - I'd invested a bunch of $$ and a whole lot of time before I even shot my first FT match!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:22 am 
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Location: home of the Marshville Festival, Ontario, Canada
Excellent tutorial, Pirellip. I sense a "sticky" happenin' here. 8)


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:34 am 
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Very informative post! Thanks for taking the time.
pirellip wrote:
So please ask questions and provide answers if you can...

On that note...
pirellip wrote:
I'm considering making up a 'sample batch' of a bit of each type of pellet and selling them so people don't have to invest as much.

Sounds great to me. I was thinking of making up some .22 sampler packs and trading them on par with anyone who has the same to offer in .177. I don't think you'd be interested in .22's but I will gladly pay for your sampler!
pirellip wrote:
Finding the optical center takes a bit of time, but what you want to do is create a V shaped contraption to rest your scope in...

I've been toying with the idea of making something using the wheels from a model car and a small electric motor to turn the scope slowly...I'll let you know how it goes...
pirellip wrote:
...you want to use your optical center as your point of impact at 55 yards.

I understand your reasoning on this but what distance did you pick to zero your 97 at? I've heard 20 yards gives the longest flat spot...
pirellip wrote:
...when you tighten it down be careful, you don't want it so tight that you bend the scope tube (because its out of alignment due to the shims)

Did you ever try the Sportsmatch AOP55? While it is one of those more expensive mounts you mentioned, it's fully and easily adjustable and it's one piece construction won't bend your scope. Money well spent IMHO...
pirellip wrote:
MOST IMPORTANTLY HAVE FUN.

I agree 110%! Your tips will help the plinker and hunter too! :D Thanks again...


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:17 am 
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pirellip wrote:
Finding the optical center takes a bit of time, but what you want to do is create a V shaped contraption to rest your scope in...

I've been toying with the idea of making something using the wheels from a model car and a small electric motor to turn the scope slowly...I'll let you know how it goes...

That sounds like a lot of work - it should only take you about 45mins (max) to find your optical center. I'd guess that as you adjust your turrets, you'll disturb the position of the scope too. I just built a wooden box with 2 Vs cut into it and it works great.

pirellip wrote:
...you want to use your optical center as your point of impact at 55 yards.

I understand your reasoning on this but what distance did you pick to zero your 97 at? I've heard 20 yards gives the longest flat spot...

Yes, I agree, but you might loose a bit of precision by doing this. Will it matter in the end? Tough to tell, especially on a piston rifle. I think my HW97 is setup at 25 yards.

pirellip wrote:
...when you tighten it down be careful, you don't want it so tight that you bend the scope tube (because its out of alignment due to the shims)

Did you ever try the Sportsmatch AOP55? While it is one of those more expensive mounts you mentioned, it's fully and easily adjustable and it's one piece construction won't bend your scope. Money well spent IMHO...

I've heard good things about this mount, I think its the one Beeman uses (with their name on it) BUT its not a 30mm size, so not useful for us, as all the 'good' scopes are a 30mm tube. Too bad though.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:44 am 
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I just wanted to say that I'd be interested in the .177 pellet sampler as well.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:19 pm 
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Great info pirellip...
Thanks! .... :D

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    Shoot Safely, Shoot Often & Share Your Sport!...


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:41 pm 
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Man that is a lot to digest...When I finally understand about scopes do I get a hat with a Tassel!!! I've got nowhere to shoot 50 yds in the city to practice(unless I invest in a GHILI suit)a cheap spring gun with a cheap scope, bad eyes and shakey hands...man this sport is just up my alley!!!LOL


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:41 am 
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That was an interesting read, similar to what I do.

My FT and HFT guns are both PCP and both like H&N FTT's in .177.

FT, I use an Air Arms Shamal that was tuned by Dave Welham of Airmasters, and a Nikko Stirling 8-32x60 scope. I have found that with the extra distance (out to 55 yds) I zero at 40yds. I find that this gives the flattest trajectory over about 25-48yds (very little deviation) and then just use the mill dots for the rest.

HFT, I use a standard Air arms s410 with a single shot tray with a 6-24x50 scope. This is zero'd at 35yds, scope parallaxed at 25yds (we can't touch the scope once we start shooting). Most of us have the scope set at 9 or 10 mag.

Best advice I can give is to get out and punch paper, zero at the range you want, then put out targets at 5yd intervals and see where the shots are going...

... Practice, Practice, Practice... is what its all about... just need to take my own advice now.

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